What’s the Last Book You Read


What’s the Last Book You Read
"reading by the pool" by Justin Cox and Midjourney

One of the perks of living in Central Florida is access to a seemingly endless supply of resort pools. Another perk is lying by the pool, sipping frozen lemonade in December. I took advantage of these perks over the weekend. Sitting in the lounge chair, I quickly realized I had left my current book at the house.

What’s ironic about leaving the book is I’ve been pondering this Gallup poll all week. Despite being about a year old, the survey shows Americans read less than we used to. Like, a lot less.

According to the poll, the average American read 12.6 books in 2021, down from 15.6 in 2016. Goodreads shows I read 31 books this year, though the number is slightly deceiving. Of the 31 read books, 22 were audiobooks. Technically I listenedto those books. But, hey, it still counts. Doesn’t it?

The truth is my attention span for physical books has always been suspect. In college, I read an entire John Grissom book in 24 hours to prepare for a law class test. Today, I have no idea which book it was or how the fictional novel had anything to do with business law and ethics. At the time, I’m sure it made sense.

My point here is that maybe there’s something to this whole reading fewer books business. I mainly listen to books while community to and from work and to and from tennis classes. Both locations are about a 30-minute drive, so I can typically “read” a book in a week or so of driving. At home, however, it takes a lot for a book to capture my attention enough to read.

Honestly, I think audiobooks have spoiled me a bit.

There’s an episode of Seinfeld where George orders a textbook on tape because it’s too boring to read. The joke is the voice reading the book sounds just like him, so it’s no different than reading it himself. For me, that’s not the problem. The problem is that I really enjoy audiobooks. It’s like someone reading me a story or, in the case of autobiographies, telling me about their life. Plus, the Star Wars novels have their own soundtracks and sound effects. They’re a lot of fun to listen to when driving to work!

All of this is to say that Americans are reading fewer books than we used to, and maybe I’m part of that statistic. But, also, maybe I’m not. It’s hard to say. What about you? Are you reading fewer books than you used to?

Also, what’s the last book you read — physical or otherwise? Leave a reply, and let’s put together some last-minute gift ideas.

A version of this article also appeared on Medium.